Classic Review: Pine S/T

Posted: September 14, 2013 in Classic Review
Tags: , , , , , ,

Back in August, Cleveland was the host to the XMG Music Conference. The Conference was held at the Cleveland Hard Rock Cafe. For the Conference, people were able to see part of the music world first hand as bands and singers were put through the same type of experiences as the singers on American Idol: Following their performance of two required songs, the group or performer was told what was good about their performance or what needed improvement. After watching most of the bands or performers turn in performances on the level of William “She Bangs” Hung, it was apparent that the job of talent scout wasn’t as glamorous as you would think.

Having sat through many nameless/faceless bands turn in less than stellar performances, it was always a great relief to finally get to see those acts that could sing, play their instruments or just set themselves apart from the rest of the pack by just performing a song or two on-key.

One such group that made a good impact on me was a band from Madison, Wisconsin. The name of the group is Pine. Pine (who recently gained a new bass player) consists of Mike Delp on guitar, Scott Theis on Drums, Justin O’rourke on piano/synth, Mike “Buzz” Buzzell on vocals and James Jones on Bass.

At the time of the conference, the band was working on their self-titled release. They finally released the album in early December. This release contains several songs that could easily be included on any HOT A/C (adult contemporary) radio station. Some songs that could easily get airtime include “Another Perfect Day,” “Sweet Vicarious” and “Take Me There”.

Even though the first track on the self-titled release from Pine, “LC,” is a rather beautiful and simple track that features a nice vocal harmony that would easily remind anyone of the vocals from The Beach Boys, the album doesn’t truly begin until the second track called “Another Perfect Day”.

“Another Perfect Day” is a track that would make a band like Green Day proud: The track is a strong punk-oriented track that also has a generous amount of “pop” influence to it. The punk/pop mixture on the track creates music that will easily get the listener up and dancing to the beat. And along with the punk/pop, the track also features lyrics with a definite attitude. Although the lyrics (and song title) might suggest happy thoughts, the lyrics are forcefully sung by Mike “Buzz” Buzzell through clenched teeth.

While “Another Perfect Day” features punk/pop feel, the song “Sweet Vicarious” is a track with a heavier rock song with a generous amount of keyboard thrown in. The resulting track is, without a doubt, an Alternative Rock song and would usually not be mistakenly grouped with the pop-based rock and roll found on Top 40 radio. “Sweet Vicarious” is one of the strongest tracks on the 2005 release from Pine.

Easily one of the best and most commercial songs on the album is the track “Take Me There”. While the song has a strong “Alternative Rock” influence, it also has enough “pop” influence to it to make the song an easy candidate for play on both Alternative Rock and Top 40 radio formats. The track is very listener-friendly and has a definite hook that will immediately grab you. If any song on this release could become a “single,” odds are it would be “Take Me There”.

The self-titled album from Pine also includes two things that are “givens” on releases in the 2000s: the hidden track: “Tonight,” and the remake: Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”.

We all know “I’m On Fire” from Bruce Springsteen as it was one of his biggest hits. And we know that the song is a rock ballad with a “pop” feel to it. But when Pine got their hands on the song, they took it in a much different direction. Their version of the song is a “power ballad,” with an emphasis on “power”. While Springsteen’s version is soft and easy, Pine’s version of the tune features electric guitars and cranks the energy level to produce one of the strongest tracks on Pine’s album. The band’s version of “I’m On Fire” will probably end up being one of the best “cover songs” in this first decade of the new millennium that has already become very heavy on the “cover songs”.

Once Pine’s new release comes to an end with the song “Shovelhead,” the CD continues to advance until it presents the “hidden track” of “Tonight”. “Tonight” is a simple ballad that features just an acoustic guitar with a light keyboard in the background to add some beautiful music to an emotionally powerful song about a man wishing he wasn’t alone.

The self-titled release by Pine showcases the talents of this noteworthy band. From the first song until the end of the album some forty minutes later, the listener can tell that this band could go places if it gets the right opportunities.

And Pine is already getting those opportunities: With the inclusion of “Another Perfect Day” on 96.3 WMAD’s 2005 “Rockin’ the Midwest” compilation and “Take Me There” being nominated for Best Song Of 2005 along with PINE’s self-titled album nominated for Best Album Of 2005, the band is certainly not just a nameless/faceless band to ignore.

This originally ran as a shortened article of less than 400 words back in 2005 in order to give the band Pine some coverage for their new release. At the time, I had to write an article/review to fit the space I was given in the publication I was writing for. I have now fleshed out the review to give the album the respect it deserved back at that time. And while the band has moved on, the album still deserves to be heard.
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